Pew Study Shows Some COVID-19 News Fatigue

There remains a strong appetite for news about the COVID-19 pandemic, but there is also some news fatigue.

That is according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

Related: Pew Finds Generational Split in COVID-19 News Appetite

The survey found that although approximately nine out of ten Americans (87%) said they are following the coronavirus news "fairly or very closely," more than two thirds (71%) also said they need to "take breaks" from that news and many (43%) said such news makes them "feel worse emotionally."

The survey also breaks out the "major" source of coronavirus information. Topping the list were national outlets (56%); followed by public health organizations and officials (51%); local news outlets at 46%, state and local officials at 36%, President Trump and his task force (31%), and Joe Biden and his campaign, 5%.

But even though national may have gotten more "majors," when which news they paid more attention to, 23% said state and local, while 15% said national (61% said they paid attention to both roughly equally).

Two thirds of the respondents said they thought the news media had covered the very well (27%) or somewhat well (42%), to less than a third who said they had covered it not too well (18%) or not well at all (11%).

Related: COVID-19 News Audience Exposes Cable News Audience Divide

As the scope of the pandemic came into view, so has the audience's perspective of coverage. While a similar survey conducted March 10-16 found that 37% said the news media had "greatly exaggerated" the risk of COVID-19, only 24% said that in this survey.

The survey was conducted April 20-26 among 10,139 U.S. adults who are members of Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel, part of Pew's Election News Pathways Project. The margin of error was plus or minus 1.5 percentage points.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.